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Fairfax residents hoped for more after 'Killers of the Flower Moon' production

Posted at 6:13 PM, Sep 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 12:20:55-04

FAIRFAX, Okla. — There is a lot of buzz around the release of the film "Killers of the Flower Moon." It’s based on the Osage murders in the 1920s and was shot primarily in Osage County.

David Grann, the author of the book, "Killers of the Flower Moon," says the majority of the murders happened in Fairfax, Okla. Now in 2022, many of the downtown buildings are vacant and dilapidated. Some residents say it’s a shame when Hollywood movie crews came to shoot the movie, and leave without any changes.

Joe Conner is one of those people. He's a research psychologist and newspaper publisher in Fairfax. He said when movie crews shot scenes there between March and November 2021, the town of 1,200 people doubled.

“Altogether, we probably made about $150 - 200,000 total impact for the town of Fairfax," he told 2 News Oklahoma.

According to Visit Bartlesville, another filming location, that city saw about $35 million in economic impact, with about $800,000 in fiscal impact. The chamber director at the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce said sales tax revenue was the highest it’s ever been during filming.

“The nucleus of all this was in Fairfax and we benefited the least economically," Conner said.

But Conner says he had false hope when finance staff of the film’s first production company told him they wanted to restore and host the premiere at the Tall Chief Theater in downtown Fairfax. It's the same historic theater, built by Alex Tallchief, father of Maria Tallchief, America’s first prima ballerina, that Conner's trying to preserve for the victims of the Osage murders.

As it turned out, Apple bought the film’s rights and he says the interest in the theater and Fairfax started to dwindle.

“I would love if they can make an endowment to the city or to something to help this community," Conner said.

But he’s not holding his breath.

“If it’s a hit like they hope it is, a lot of people will make lots of money off of this and we’ll have little to show for it," Conner said. "I hope I’m wrong.”

Conner says the Tallchiefs built the theater after the murders happened to lift the moods of some of the Osage people that still lived in Fairfax.

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